This month I am going to discuss emotions with you – emotions that nearly everybody thinks about, and we emphasize the importance of being aware of which, at nearly every therapy approach.
Emotions are feelings, and the thoughts, psychological and biological conditions specific to that feeling, and the tendency to a series of motions. Eight emotion clusters have been defined: Anger, sorrow, fear, pleasure, love, surprise, abhorrence and embarrassment.
In order for a person to control the outcome of the emotions he/she experiences, he/she first needs to become aware of, and to accept, those emotions. Otherwise our emotions will control us. Recognizing and accepting emotions places them under the control of our intelligence, logic and ethics.
It is not always easy to accept our feelings. The greatest obstruction in the way of expressing our emotions is another emotion, guilt. We may not be able to express our emotions because we feel guilty. However, accepting the fact that emotions are not wrong or inappropriate, that there is a reason for feeling that emotion, will make it easier for us to express them correctly. There are significant differences between feeling an emotion and acting on that emotion. Feeling enough anger towards a person to want to kill him/her and attempting to kill him/her are not the same thing.
Emotions are not personality traits. Saying, “This is my personality, and everybody should act accordingly,” is not taking responsibility for our emotions and behavior. Emotions that affect our behavior may also cause us to place the responsibility of our actions on others. Therefore, we seek the solution in others. Instead of holding others responsible or blaming them, it is necessary to accept the responsibility of feeling that emotion and investigating the underlying reasons, using that emotion as a guide, from the perspective of both recognizing one’s self (understanding thoughts, needs and repeating behavior patterns), and being more constructive in one’s relationships. Besides, we may not know exactly how someone else feels or what he/she thinks; it is more probable to know one’s own emotions.
There are also those who take on the responsibility of others’ emotions. These people may have shouldered unnecessary burdens. Trying to take on the responsibility for another person all the time, that is, trying to do someone else’s work, is an unnecessary burden. Saying, “I’ve upset him/her,” or, I’ve made him/her angry,” and thinking that the other person’s feelings and actions are your responsibility will create adversities both in your life and in the other person’s life. In such a situation, it is important to share the burden of emotions. Instead of always being strong, durable and ready to help in the presence of a person constantly demanding aid, that is, instead of taking on the burden of their emotions, we should talk about our own problems and our feelings about them. We would thus be able to reduce the emotional load.
Taking on someone else’s load like this would be labeled “sacrifice” after a while, and turn into an expectation of recompense. It becomes one of the basic reasons for relationships to deteriorate.
Anger may seem like a sanctuary where other emotions that may be harder to confess to ourselves, or, once aware, we feel we may not be able to cope with, hide, one which may feel safer to us. Therefore we may tend to define other emotions as anger, and act accordingly. We may feel that once we abandon the angry stance, once we discover our real emotion, we may find ourselves in a situation harder to deal with. Unsatisfied needs may be a source of anger. Although feeling angry and shouting at the other person or showing some other, similar reaction may seem like an easier solution than understanding what we need from him/her and asking for it, anger is just a cover. We cannot recognize our need, and cannot find a solution.
For some, being angry is preferable. The reason for this is, anger makes them feel stronger and less vulnerable. Thus, they could hide the fact that they are hurt or afraid from others.
Emotions are one of the most important concepts to be aware of and to be expressed during therapy. A person who is aware of his/her emotions and can express them can live a more psychologically fulfilling life. Therefore, it is important for a person to work on heightened awareness of his/her own emotions. Applicants who have found out during the therapy sessions of our Institute that the emotion they were thinking of as love was in fact anger, and what they thought was anger was actually sorrow, and who have been able to live much more meaningful lives after learning to recognize and express their emotions, are saying that this has been beneficial not only to their personal lives, but also to their business lives.